May 11, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown watches work outs during mini camp at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, OH. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE
Much like the league's surprising decision to allow everyday fan access to the All-22 Film through their Game Rewind service on the dot com site, the league also decided this year was as good as any to relax their blackout rule. You can thank trends of declining league-wide attendance numbers. The rule prevents hometown games from being broadcast within 75 miles of the stadium if it fails to sell out 72 hours before kickoff (48 hours if an extension is granted). While sellouts are still required, the league is allowing teams to decide a benchmark for what constitutes a sellout.
The updated rule gives teams total control to set a ticket threshold, allowing capacity to be as low as 85 percent, but with a catch. For every ticket sold past that threshold, 50 percent of that revenue will be split between the home and away team. And so far it seems that "the catch" is strong enough to prevent teams from changing their ticket threshold. The Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, San Diego Chargers and Buffalo Bills have already announced that they're not taking advantage of the new blackout rule whereas the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the only team utilizing the customized benchmark, going with the whole 85 percent.
As for the Bengals, don't expect an update any time soon. According to Joe Reedy with the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Cincinnati Bengals won't make their "intentions known publicly until closer to the final deadline of August 9." What may seen a little confusing is the multiple deadlines that have been reported. The deadline for teams to decide their number is July 15 (today) while the deadline for final adjustments is August 9.